Monday, April 12, 2010

In the Glenn Miller mood...

Been a while since I've taken the time to make a show update, but we'll give two in rapid succession here.  First, Saturday night I went to see the Glenn Miller Orchestra at Benaroya Hall.  I have to admit, I wasn't expecting the world, in fact I was expecting to be bored by about intermission.  But they were absolutely fantastic!

Not only were they fantastic musicians, they were brilliant entertainers.  Not a huge surprise... I certainly have always been a big fan of Glenn Miller and his music, but little did I expect one fantastic song after another for 2 solid hours.

On a note of personal taste, big band music is far more to my liking than straight-ahead or bebop jazz music.  As much as I like jazz, I struggle through some jazz bands' 10+ minute long songs with endless improvisational verses.  Fortunately, big band music tends to finds its origins in American popular music of the 1940s... and the songs tend to be mercifully short.  (Just hypothesizing, but a 78rpm record could handle about 3 minutes of music on a side, so that would probably keep the popular songs limited to about that long.)


Last Wednesday I went and saw Dreamgirls at the Paramount.  Despite it being a nearly 30-year old musical (it premiered back in 1981), and a recent movie (which I didn't see), I knew absolutely nothing about this show going into it except a very superficial premise.  As is typically the case with musicals based on a genre of music or a particular band or bands, the so-called "jukebox musicals", I was expecting decent music with a tenuous if not non-existent plot line.  Wow, was I surprised again!  Not only did this musical have fantastic music, not to mention some amazing singers, it actually had a captivating plot!

The obvious allusions to Diana Ross, the Supremes, and James Brown provided a fascinating connection of the plot to 1960's and 70's music history, its successes and its scandals.

It's been a while since I've been able to give a solid rating here, but based on my standard system:

Cast: 4 stars - Brilliant singers and actors.
Script: 4 stars - Decent plot.  Enough to hold the music together and keep me captivated.  I'd call that a success.
Music:  3 stars - Better performed than the music itself was.
Technical: 4 stars - This wasn't a Broadway spectacle, but it was well done and pleasing to watch.
Overall:  4 stars - Hard to complain too much.

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